Keeping your Ubuntu machine updated makes sure you have not only all the latest features, but the latest security patches and bug fixes too.

Standard Ubuntu installations include a GUI-based update manager named Software Updater. This utility allows you to easily update all the packages installed using the packet manager in Ubuntu, as well as the Linux kernel.

If you prefer a CLI approach, updating Ubuntu via the terminal is very easy too. You’ll need to update your sources list, then upgrade the packages.

We’ve covered both processes in detail in the sections below.

Update Ubuntu via GUI

The Software Updater is very useful for beginners as it lets you perform everything from package updates to version and kernel upgrades with the click of a few buttons. To use it,

  1. Search ‘Software Updater’ in the Application menu. It’ll launch and check for updates.

  2. You can expand the Details of updates section to exclude any unwanted updates.

  3. Click on Install now and enter your password to authorize the update.

  4. Reboot the system if prompted to finish installing the updates.

Note: If you can’t find the software updater, it may not be installed yet. You can run sudo apt install update-manager to install it manually.

Update Ubuntu via CLI

The Software Updater is just a front-end to Advanced Packing Tool (APT). APT, in turn, is a front-end to the Debian Package Manager (dpkg). But we’ll just focus on apt right now, as that’s what we’ll use to update Ubuntu.

The first step is to update your package list. This is important as other apt functionalities like searching for certain packages or upgrading them work based on this info. If the package list isn’t updated first, you may not find certain packages or new package versions.

sudo apt update

Now that package index files are up-to-date, install the available upgrades.

sudo apt upgrade

You can also automate the whole process with

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Using the && operator ensures that the first command (package list update) executes first, and the second (package upgrade) only executes if the first was successful.

Similarly, the -y flag is for skipping confirmation prompts.

If you only need to upgrade a specific package, you can do so with

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade <packagename> -y

One thing to note is that if upgrading a package requires changing the install status of some other package, apt upgrade won’t proceed with this upgrade.

In this case, you can use apt full-upgrade instead.

sudo apt full-upgrade

Full-upgrade handles package conflicts intelligently, upgrading important packages, and removing unimportant ones in the process if required. 

Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.